facebook

CoolStuffInc.com

Commander Legends available now!
   Sign In
Create Account

I Like to Pod!

Reddit

Up until now, I have only written about Limited and given you tournament reports. Today, this changes, and I will be bringing you my first Constructed article! I was very excited about sharing this list with you, though I was somewhat beaten to it by Patrick Chapin. As nice as it is to see him writing about my list almost card for card, I do have a number of differences that I think make my build stronger.

Innistrad was released this Friday, which left me with an awkward decision of what to play at FNM. I did not have many of the new cards, and I hate running substandard decks. After some thought, it occurred to me that a Birthing Pod list would be best to negate that feeling, as I could put in a few exciting new one-ofs, and the absence of some wouldn’t make the deck feel terrible. I ran R/U/G Pod with Splinter Twin combo before rotation; however, after looking at the cards available to R/U/G in new Standard, I was no longer excited by the Red, as much as I love Inferno Titan. Bant Pod, however, had lost relatively few cards, and while I considered it weaker pre-rotation, I thought I would give it a look.

When building a deck, I start with something similar that did well recently. The Internet is really great for that, so I went and looked up the list that won Brazilian Nationals just a few weeks ago. Here it is:

[cardlist]

[Creatures]

1 Blade Splicer

1 Obstinate Baloth

1 Razor Hippogriff

1 Stonehorn Dignitary

1 Sun Titan

1 Sylvan Ranger

1 Viridian Corrupter

1 Viridian Emissary

1 Wall of Omens

2 Acidic Slime

2 Phantasmal Image

3 Llanowar Elves

3 Sea Gate Oracle

4 Birds of Paradise

1 Solemn Simulacrum

1 Wurmcoil Engine

2 Phyrexian Metamorph

1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

[/Creatures]

[Planeswalkers]

2 Venser, the Sojourner

[/Planeswalkers]

[Spells]

4 Preordain

4 Birthing Pod

[/Spells]

[Lands]

2 Island

2 Plains

4 Forest

2 Tectonic Edge

4 Misty Rainforest

4 Razorverge Thicket

4 Seachrome Coast

[/Lands]

[Sideboard]

1 Acidic Slime

1 Devout Lightcaster

1 Lone Missionary

1 Obstinate Baloth

1 Spellskite

1 Sylvok Replica

1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence

2 Celestial Purge

2 Flashfreeze

4 Nature's Claim

[/Sideboard]

[/cardlist]

The first thing to do was obviously to cut out all the no-longer-legal cards. Ignoring the sideboard for the moment, as that is metagame-dependent, this removes the following:

First, I think the Preordains should always have been Ponders in this list, so that is an easy replacement. It is irrelevant now since Preordain is no longer an option, but the deck shuffles a lot and just wants to find a meaningful threat. Hence, looking at three cards instead of two is just better.

Losing Obstinate Baloth is a bit of a blow. Certainly the R/U/G variant I ran leaned heavily on the Baloth to have a chance against the aggro decks, particularly RDW. There is a replacement in Innistrad: Hollowhenge Scavenger, who triggers on Morbid and gains you 5 life when entering the battlefield. However, he is a 5-cost creature, and that extra mana against the aggressive decks is going to make all the difference. A quick search of my folders, however, reminded me of Peace Strider. It cost 4 mana, like Obstinate Baloth, though he is only a 3/3 and only gains 3 life. With Lightning Bolt gone, he will be a bit more likely to survive. Add to this the ability to sacrifice it to Birthing Pod, fetching Razor Hippogriff and returning it to your hand for another 4 life now and 3 more when you play it again, makes this seem like a pretty strong play against aggro decks. Plus, next turn, you can trade in the Hippogriff for a Wurmcoil Engine and your opponent pretty much just scoops.

Having decided Peace Strider is awesome, I moved on to the problem of the missing Sea Gate Oracles, Wall of Omens, and Sylvan Ranger. Sylvan Ranger was just replaced with a second Viridian Emissary. Sea Gate Oracle added a lot of consistency to the deck, and there is no like-for-like replacement to be had for it. The same is true for Wall of Omens. However, this provided the opportunity to put in some new, exciting cards. I had the good fortune to obtain a single Skaab Ruinator, which went in immediately. It is awkward to draw him early, but Podding into him is pretty sweet. I also put a Geist of Saint Traft in, although I was apprehensive about how good he would be and how often I would just get Ruinator instead. Archon of Justice is not a new card, but last time I played with Bant Pod, I found him to be an excellent get-out-of-jail-free card if I needed one. Finally, I put Mayor of Avabruck in. I wanted to try a Werewolf in a Birthing Pod deck as the ability to still do stuff during your turn and transform your creatures seemed like a possible strong interaction.

The mana base is pretty easy to fix thanks to the awesome new dual lands in Innistrad; I just replaced the Misty Rainforests with Hinterland Harbors. I then went with an additional Plains, since there are a number of cards with ww in their casting cost, and a Moorland Haunt. I think Moorland Haunt has some real potential in the Birthing Pod lists since your graveyard is often full of creatures late in the game, and a way to turn those into meaningful threats could be really strong. There are a couple of conflicts with this plan—namely that Skaab Ruinator wants creatures to remain in the graveyard so that he can exile them, and Sun Titan wants to return stuff. However, you can base if and what you are exiling with the Haunt on what board state you currently have. As a rule, exile the high-CMC creatures first to make Sun Titan happy.

One final thing was that I swapped the Llanowar Elves for Avacyn’s Pilgrims, since if you already have a Green source, you’d rather have a White source.

Here is the list I initially sleeved up:

[cardlist]

[Creatures]

1 Archon of Justice

1 Blade Splicer

1 Mayor of Avabruck

1 Razor Hippogriff

1 Skaab Ruinator

1 Stonehorn Dignitary

1 Sun Titan

1 Viridian Corrupter

2 Acidic Slime

2 Phantasmal Image

2 Viridian Emissary

3 Avacyn's Pilgrim

4 Birds of Paradise

1 Peace Strider

1 Solemn Simulacrum

1 Wurmcoil Engine

2 Phyrexian Metamorph

1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

1 Geist of Saint Traft

[/Creatures]

[Planeswalkers]

2 Venser, the Sojourner

[/Planeswalkers]

[Spells]

4 Ponder

4 Birthing Pod

[/Spells]

[Lands]

2 Island

3 Plains

4 Forest

1 Moorland Haunt

4 Hinterland Harbor

4 Razorverge Thicket

4 Seachrome Coast

[/Lands]

[/cardlist]

I then proceeded to play some games against a U/B control list and a G/W tempo deck with land-destruction and planeswalkers (the lists my friends were taking to FNM). Skaab Ruinator was a bit of a boss, although he was really awkward if I drew him naturally, so there was no way I wanted more than one in the list. You can always clone him if you want a second copy. He did get Dissipated once, and I’m sure that card will become a staple for control decks in the upcoming months.

Mayor of Avabruck was surprisingly underwhelming, and mostly made me mess up my turns as I faffed around him. I didn’t have a Mayor at the time of testing so had proxied him on an Azure Mage, and most of the time, she would have been more relevant.

Geist of Saint Traft was also underwhelming. Most of the time, when Podding into a 3-drop, I fetched the Ruinator, and the one time I got the Geist in play, it just traded with a Snapcaster Mage.

I rarely drew Venser, and after the games, I remarked that most of the time I actually barely wanted him. Sure, he can do some really stupid stuff, but I feel that he either wins more or does nothing. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate the power of the Stonehorn Dignitary/Venser combo, but he no longer felt as good. Part of this is probably the loss of some of his favorite targets when you don’t have the combo, namely Wall of Omens and Sea Gate Oracle. The G/W list I was playing against was running planeswalkers, which I’ve always found Pod lists to struggle against. However, he was also running Beast Within, which suggested the answer. My initial change was to cut the Vensers for Beast Withins, and they were so good when I drew them that I want to go up to a full playset. Without Venser, Stonehorn Dignitary was starting to look sad, so he was replaced with a Beast Within, as was the Geist.

Acidic Slime has become less of a necessity thanks to the demise of Valakut (R.I.P.!). As I was running four creatures that cost 5 mana, I wanted to reduce this number, so I cut the duplicate Slime. I only had three creatures remaining in the 3-drop slot (Blade Splicer, Viridian Corrupter, and Skaab Ruinator), so to increase that, I put in a Deceiver Exarch. You can still use it to tap your opponent’s blocker. It’s not a bad target for Sun Titan to return, and you can Pod into it and use the untap trigger to untap Pod to go straight to a 4-drop creature.

The last change was the replace the Mayor with the Azure Mage who had been proxying for it. I hoped the Mage would be good late-game, especially against the Control decks.

I always used to run a Frost Titan in my Pod lists; however, it was strongest against Valakut, and because I was building for FNM, which I expect to be more aggressive than not, I wanted to just run Wurmcoil instead.

Here is the final version I sleeved up for FNM:

[cardlist]

[Creatures]

1 Acidic Slime

1 Archon of Justice

1 Azure Mage

1 Blade Splicer

1 Deceiver Exarch

1 Razor Hippogriff

1 Skaab Ruinator

1 Sun Titan

1 Viridian Corrupter

2 Phantasmal Image

2 Viridian Emissary

3 Avacyn's Pilgrim

4 Birds of Paradise

1 Peace Strider

1 Solemn Simulacrum

1 Wurmcoil Engine

2 Phyrexian Metamorph

1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

[/Creatures]

[Spells]

4 Beast Within

4 Ponder

4 Birthing Pod

[/Spells]

[Lands]

2 Island

3 Plains

4 Forest

1 Moorland Haunt

4 Hinterland Harbor

4 Razorverge Thicket

4 Seachrome Coast

[/Lands]

[Sideboard]

1 Elite Inquisitor

1 Fiend Hunter

1 Grand Abolisher

1 Sylvok Replica

2 Spellskite

1 Thrun, the Last Troll

2 Memory's Journey

3 Gnaw to the Bone

3 Naturalize

[/Sideboard]

[/cardlist]

My sideboard is a mess, and I have only shared it with you on the condition that you don’t laugh! Here is my logic for each card: Elite Inquisitor was because it’s FNM, so I was sure someone, or possibly many someones, would bring a Werewolf deck, which I could then completely own with this card. I wanted to try Gnaw to the Bone against the aggro decks. Spellskite was for the removal-heavy decks, especially RDW; Naturalize, for Tempered Steel/Tezzeret decks; Memory’s Journey, to use either on my own stuff in long games or against any reanimator decks that showed up. Sylvok Replica is a must in any Pod sideboard, as Torpor Orb is really annoying. I auto-board it in in most matchups, just in case. Thrun and Grand Abolisher were to bring in against control. And Fiend Hunter . . . was kind of Card 15 that I figured I’d try.

So, how did FNM go? Pretty good; I went 3–0 playing against U/B/R Tezzeret, G/W Humans, and G/W tempo with land-destruction and planeswalkers. Beast Within was amazing—I used it on my stuff and their stuff. I got to turn my Birds of Paradise into a surprise blocker. I turned my own land into a Beast instead of letting it be Acidic Slimed. I killed multiple planeswalkers and a Kessig Wolf Run. In summary: The card is good!

I gained 10 life from Peace Strider/Razor Hippogriff against the Humans deck, which was pretty key in the game. Elesh Norn is still amazing against everyone. I didn’t ever fetch Azure Mage or draw her, so she remains undetermined, but to be honest, she should probably be a Spellskite, since that card is still good.

Moorland Haunt was pretty good for me in the game I drew it. It allowed me to kill off a Gideon I had been chipping away at. It then was turned into a Beast before it let me make too many Spirits, suggesting my opponent was certainly afraid of it. I would run a second one to draw it slightly more frequently.

Surprisingly, I played Skaab Ruinator relatively infrequently, but I think the card is still good; I just didn’t really have the matchups where it was really strong.

Thrun out of the sideboard was amazing! I would strongly consider putting him in the main deck if I could find the space.

In conclusion, I was pretty happy with the deck, and it is a really fun list to play with. What would I have done differently with a full Innistrad collection at my disposal? Well, thanks for asking:

[cardlist]

[Creatures]

1 Acidic Slime

1 Deceiver Exarch

1 Grave Titan

1 Morkrut Banshee

1 Phyrexian Rager

1 Reaper from the Abyss

1 Skaab Ruinator

1 Skinrender

1 Viridian Corrupter

2 Phantasmal Image

2 Viridian Emissary

3 Llanowar Elves

4 Birds of Paradise

1 Perilous Myr

1 Solemn Simulacrum

1 Wurmcoil Engine

2 Phyrexian Metamorph

1 Glissa, the Traitor

[/Creatures]

[Spells]

4 Beast Within

4 Ponder

4 Birthing Pod

[/Spells]

[Lands]

2 Island

4 Forest

4 Swamp

4 Darkslick Shores

4 Hinterland Harbor

4 Woodland Cemetery

[/Lands]

[/cardlist]

I hope you enjoyed my first trip into Constructed. Any comments are appreciated. See you next week!

Limited time 35% buy trade in bonus buylist